Budget funding for 'fragmented' sexual violence services

  • 18/05/2016
Budget funding for 'fragmented' sexual violence services

New sexual violence services will be funded with new money from this year's Budget as well as keeping other programmes going.

Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley announced $46 million over four years -- $6.4 million of it reprioritised -- to better support victims and prevent sexual violence.

The money will go toward the new frontline crisis response team which will focus on trauma management and getting victims to the right services and follow-up.

It will include a 24/7 national advice and support helpline, specialist callout support like crisis counselling and advocacy services as well as follow-up support to get long-term recovery services.

A professional will go with the victim to police interviews and medical forensic examinations where appropriate.

The ministers say the new services will give victims a more effective and consistent response in the three days after a sexual assault.

Funding will also go into services to reduce offending and reoffending, assessment and treatment programmes for those who have committed sexual violence and those at risk of developing harmful behaviour. It will also increasing the scope to focus on adults who pose a risk to children.

An existing service to help male survivors of sexual abuse, including one-to-one peer and group support will also get funding to continue.

Ms Adams says the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence looked at where funding was needed to best support victims.

Ms Tolley says the sector has been "fragmented" and without a national service which people can access at all times. It also struggled to meet demand.

"The announcement today is about putting that right."

Ms Tolley admits rolling the services out to the regions will be the "hard part".

"We want to make sure we have professional staff. So that's why we've give ourselves a bit of time.

"There are a number [of services] around and we've just got to better support them."

Ms Tolley says the funding will make a big difference to services which are running "hand to mouth".

Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch will be the first to benefit because they already have the services based there, she says.

Green Party's women's spokeswoman Jan Logie says the funding is a "much-needed boost" for the sector which has struggled to perform its duties.

"More funding for sexual violence services is an important first step that will come as an enormous relief for those who have been battling to provide crucial support with fragmented funding and increases in demand," she says.

"People who have been the victims of sexual violence need to know that they can get the help they need to move on with their lives."

However, she says there was no additional money for services which deal with historic abuse which still suffers from a lack of funding.

The funding follows a select committee inquiry Ms Logie started which recommended improving support for the sector.

As a result of the previous lack of funding, services like Rape Crisis and Women's Refuge have had to cut hours and reduce services, she says.

Ms Logie thanked those who put party politics aside in order to make sure more support was delivered.